Scalia may have opened path for Quakers to abstain from taxes

The controversial Hobby Lobby decision elevated religious belief over legal compliance — this may be good news for Quakers, Amish, Mennonites and others who've historically faced punishing reprisals for withholding some of their tax to avoid funding the military.

In particular, Justice Scalia's dicta sets out a logic for conscientious objection to compliance with US law where the issue is related to religious faith. Sarah Ruden, a Quaker, writes in Salon about her belief that she will now be able to field a legal challenge to full tax-payments on the basis of Scalia's argument.

There's nothing remotely like this basis in conservative Christians' pleas that they have a religious objection to voluntary abortion (or birth control somehow resembling it) — an issue never even mentioned in the Bible, and manifesting during recent years mainly (it could be argued) as a political wedge and the cat-o'-nine-tails of anti-feminist backlash.

I look forward with mirth to the Supreme Court's deliberations on whether the portion of military spending funded by the taxes of religious pacifists represents a compelling public interest. Historians of our era — Justice Scalia is especially keen to consult history when backing up his rulings — must already be revving up to declare that it would have benefited our nation hugely had there not been as many military resources available for our government to splash out with. Even more to Scalia's taste as evidence, a delegate at the 1787 Constitutional Convention declared that a standing army was like an erect penis, "a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure." Crude analogy, but it's turned out to be no joke.

Scalia's major screw-up: How SCOTUS just gave liberals a huge gift [Sarah Ruden/Salon]

(Image: Peace & Imagine, Matteo Piotto, CC-BY-SA)